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THE NDP AND JAGMEET SINGH: THE PARTY THAT FAILED ME

A fraudulent intent, however carefully concealed at the outset, will generally, in the end, betray itself. — Livy

Since a politician never believes what he says, he is always astonished when other do. – Charles de Gaulle

Frank A. Pelaschuk

I have been a lifelong supporter of the NDP. Take my word for it, that’s a lot of years as a voter, sometime paid member, occasional volunteer worker, and donor. There have been times that I have wavered, unhappy with the direction of the party as when Ed Broadbent refused to step up with the majority of Canadians in opposition to free trade during the 1988 election. Even so, the NDP gained the most seats in its history up to that moment and the Conservatives, who favoured free trade, won notwithstanding the declared voter antipathy to “free” trade. I liked Broadbent as did many Canadians but as an individual rather than a leader. I believed him, and still do, decent, well-meaning but too middle of the road, definitely no Tommy Douglas.

But Broadbent seemed part of a trend as exemplified by British Columbia’s Mike Harcourt who had become provincial leader of the NDP in 1986 and Premier in 1991. It was Harcourt’s appearance on, I believe, CBC’s Crosscountry Checkup, that convinced me the NDP was heading in a direction that may have begun with Ontario’s Bob Rae in the early 70s that I found difficult to reconcile. When asked by the host if he was a “democratic socialist”, Harcourt offered the telling response, “I’m a democrat.” When the host repeat the question, he offered the same response. I found it shocking that a leader of a party based on democratic socialist principles, my party, would, publicly and on air, refuse to acknowledge the party’s socialist roots. Enraged, I immediately wrote him a letter and mailed it to NDP headquarters. A few weeks later, I received a phone call. It was Harcourt wanting to address my concerns. We spoke for close to thirty minutes and my remembrance of the conversation is that it was pleasant but unsatisfactory. I was surprised and pleased that he had taken time from his schedule to respond but I was dismayed that my party leader (I was a member then) would disavow his “socialist” roots. I don’t mean to suggest I believe Broadbent is of the same stripe, nor was he then; if asked the same question, he would have answered. But, unless called to, I suspect he and the party preferred not to draw attention the the “socialist” aspect. I realize now, that, as with Ujjal Dosangh and Bob Rae, the “roots”, if existent, were certainly not deep.

The Harcourt appearance on CBC not only exposed my naïveté, it also woke me up somewhat. The ground had shifted. It wasn’t belief, principles, ideas or ideals that really mattered to some; it was all about the main chance: What’s in it for me.

The idea of the NDP as the “conscience” of the nation had gone by the wayside; the party and its inner circle were, it seemed and still seems to me, less interested in seeing implemented the goals so long hungered for and fought for by grassroots members than snatching victory by compromise and capitulation as Mulcair sought to do in the last election when the NDP, incredulous at its good fortune, truly began to believe victory was within its grasp; for the jaded stalwarts there was hope and excitement, yes, but also wariness, they’ve been down this road before and were used at most to occasionally holding the balance of power in minority governments which allowed opportunity for a real way of leveraging a path towards accomplishing some of their important goals; it was better than nothing. But if satisfying, perhaps not satisfying enough.

It was a long, gradual road of decline, I guess: too many losses, weak leaders, weak platforms. And then Jack. Jack. Jack.

Oh, what might have been! What if…what if…

But Layton, decent, vigorous, dogged… and middle of the road… was gone and there was Mulcair and there was the NDP doing so well, thanks to Layton’s legacy, and all but certain fall of the Harper conservatives. And then, and then…god no! A bolt of lightening, the clap of thunder and THE HANDSOME PRINCE.

Even so, there was a real shot of winning. Better programs, better ideas, better…well, okay, the NDP had no HANDSOME PRINCE but a solid performer in the House and a good grasp of his politics in Mulcair…god it smelled so good, you could almost taste it, feel it…victory! So tantalizing, so alluring, so insidious and corruptive. Mulcair knew it was his for the taking that brass ring, it was just there, just so, so close. He and his handlers wanted it to happen, wanted to ensure it would happen so they came up with a plan: Just promise Canadians what they claim is one of the most important items they want from government. Easy! So he and party did, not only veering right and ceding to the liberals what was generally considered NDP territory, he resoundingly snatched defeat from the jaws of an all but certain victory by promising balanced budgets during a slumping economy. Trudeau, sitting on god’s lap, shrewdly and ecstatically, seized the opportunity to declare he would run deficits to help Canadians recover from the depredations of the Harper regime. For me, the Mulcair declaration was stunning; for the NDP, that capitulation would prove mind-numbingly catastrophic.

Still, even then, I saw hopes of an NDP recovery because, while willing to give Trudeau a chance, I really did not believe he would go through with the electoral reform and many other of his grandiose promises uttered in the manner of a smug brat crossing his arms and puffing out his chest declaring: Look at me! Aren’t I the clever boy?

It wouldn’t take long, I believed, for disillusioned soft liberals and new democrats who bought the split vote nonsense to realize the errors of their ways and return to their usual state of torpor. When he proved himself willing to flaunt conflict of interests regulations time and time again I figured that was it, Trudeau would be toast. How much of the venal, opportunistic, cynical, and cloying phony would Canadians endure?

A lot, evidently.

The NDP fall has been swift and graceless. Mulcair was unceremoniously dumped as leader and replaced by Trudeau-lite Jagmeet Singh. I don’t like the real phony and had no issue with the facsimile except for the fact he was a facsimile. Is this what the NDP had fallen to, pinning hopes on the schmoozing Trudeau bandwagon of youth, looks and apparent charisma oozing, simply oozing charm of cloying sincerity proving himself a feminist, human rights, man-of-the-people of every colour, stripe, need, want, and self-identifying label crusader? Since I don’t buy the Trudeau brand of phony, feel-good hypocrisy why should I Singh’s? But, okay, give the man a chance, he deserves that at least.

Was the NDP membership seeking to offer in a turban-wearing Sikh proof of it’s progressiveness? Good, go with that. But what I also want is a leader who is effective, honest, and non-equivocal and loaded with ideas more than I want the charm à la Trudeau. Well, I haven’t heard much from Singh regarding ideas, programs, his stand on poverty, healthcare, pharmacare, education, homelessness, seniors, veterans. Hell, he is not even an elected member of parliament. If he hadn’t made headlines for reasons that cause me to really doubt the NDP choice to lead the party let alone the country, the NDP and Singh would be all but invisible.

Of particular concern to me are two issues. The first of these was a result of his appearance for an interview on CBC’s Power & Politics by Terry Milewski acting as guest host. When asked, four times, “Is it acceptable for Talwinder Singh Parmar to be held up as a martyr and have posters of him displayed in a positive manner?” (CBC, Power & Politics, Dec. 6, 2017) Singh refused to answer the question except in the vaguest of terms. The astonishing thing that came from this, apart from his non answer, was the blowback from the politically correct for Milewski with suggestions he was a racist. To the PCs, it was immaterial that Singh could not and would not respond to the question, Milewski was a racist. Then the Globe and Mail (March 13, 2018) reported that Singh had attended a San Francisco rally honouring Sikh separatist Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale who, depending on which side of the line one stands, is or is not, a terrorist. Singh did not answer questions from the Globe and Mail regarding why he attended. Vague answers to direct questions, poor judgement in whom he supports: these are not hallmarks of a leader let alone a merely adequate leader.

When I saw that interview with Milewski, I fired off an email to Singh making plain my unhappiness with his failure to respond to a fair question.

No response from Singh or the NDP.

The other episode which deeply troubles me is Jagmeet Singh’s mishandling, and that’s what it is, of the allegations of harassment of staffers laid against NDP MP Erin Weir by a third party, fellow MP Christine Moore. What the actual accusations are remain unclear but Weir was immediately suspended from caucus and a third-party investigation by University of Ottawa law professor Michelle Flaherty. Weir apparently welcomed the investigations but denied the allegations claiming them “trumped up” because of his stand in 2016 regarding carbon pricing. Until Weir spoke, there were signs he would be welcomed back to the fold but that changed. Weir was no longer suspended but expelled. Said Singh following those comments, and this may provide a hint of the real reason for his expulsion:“Yesterday, he challenged the findings of the investigation and attacked a person who came forward with the complaint. He also revealed details that could identify the complainant. So for that reason, I cannot be confident in his ability to be rehabilitated (Global News, May 3, 2018).”

Weir was booted from caucus found to have failed to pick up on “social cues”. He accepts that may have happened. While the investigation found evidence of one count of harassment and three of sexual harassment based on hearsay and, from some accounts, misunderstandings, none seem to suggest sexual harassment the way I see it: sexual overtures, groping, touching, suggestive gestures and the like; Weir is a big man and evidently intimidating in appearance. He admits to being socially awkward and did apologize to those he may have discomfited. He agreed to attend remedial treatment with the understanding he would be allowed to return to caucus. He did and from reports, his trainer cleared him saying Weir “gets it”. If there is evidence of inappropriate behaviour, not just “heated” arguments over NDP policy, they must be made public. What is indecent is the public lynching of a man for unspecified crimes open to broad interpretations by anonymous accusers working through a third party. Weir deserves better and Singh and the NDP should have done better beginning with a formal complaint.

Since his expulsion, Weir has sought to be reinstated in the NDP caucus only to be informed by Jagmeet Singh on Sept. 6, 2018 that that would not happen. Not only was there no fair hearing or procedure applied, evidently there is no redemption as far as Singh and the NDP is concerned.

So what is really going on? What was hinted at in Singh’s comments above, seems to be fully developed by Sheila Malcolmson, NDP Women’s Equality Critic, in an appearance on CBC’s Power & Politics on the same day Weir’s expulsion was made final. On the program, she says that Weir, in originally speaking out against the expulsion May 1st, shortly after the allegations became public, had said “some outrageous things about our caucus leaders and the complainants”. In doing so he had sealed his own fate. In other words, you don’t criticize the leadership of the party (https://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/jagmeet-singh-ndp-erin-weir-1.4812955). And that’s what likely did Weir in.

Over the span of this sordid affair, I have written to Singh and the NDP voicing my concern over the lack of due process accorded Erin Weir. There wasn’t even a formal complaint put forth! I have received no response. That seems to be the standard with the NDP these days.

Christine Moore, the third party who had brought all this about, was herself faced with a sexual harassment allegation by ex-soldier Glen Kirkland who met Moore when testifying at hearing in which she was a member. She was suspended, cleared, though admitting to a sexual encounter. Different outcome. The records are sealed. The finding was the encounter was consensual. That’s good for Moore. But what of Weir who was cleared as “getting it” and, as far as is known, only crime seems to have been of being a big man standing too close to people who may have felt uncomfortable. That’s no justification for the public character assassination and lynching that took place.

I make no claim to knowing the whole story, but I know this: I am very unhappy with the way Jagmeet Singh handled this. If there is more to it, make it public. If not, for decency’s sake, bring an end to Weir’s misery. What I don’t understand is this: After all that Singh, Moore, the NDP leadership has put him through, why would Weir wish to rejoin the NDP? To me, the leadership seem to live by a double standard that is hypocritical and unworthy of a party that I have long supported.

Singh has not only succumbed to the allure of political correctness; he and the party have followed a grossly unfair process in handling sexual harassment claims. Weir may be socially awkward. He may have made mistakes. He admitted to them. He may even be guilty of terrible things. But we don’t know. There is a veil of secrecy that serves neither the NDP, the accusers and certainly not Weir. My knowledge of him is that he has been a decent, hardworking member of the party since he was thirteen years of age. His appearances on TV suggest a young, intelligent, sincere, and earnest individual. The fact that a letter signed by 68 NDP members demanding he be reinstated surely must indicate something of his character and the NDP process they believe flawed.

If that letter receives the same response as mine have over the last nine months, the signatories can expect zero response. Nothing. Nada. Zilch.

As long as Singh, Sheila Malcolmson and all the others behind the public lynching of Erin Weir remain, I am through with the NDP.

The party has lost its way. In fact, I feel that no party or politician speaks to me or for me; the conservatives are just mean and the liberals, well, they are just like everyone else I guess, out for the main chance. I am saddened that my party is losing money and that next election at least seven MPs will not run including, David Christopherson, Helené Laverdière, Roméo Saganash, Linday Duncan, and Irene Mathyssen. Is it all on Singh? I think not. Party strategists must be held accountable. One has to wonder about a leader who removes party stalwart David Christopherson for voting against Trudeau’s initiative requiring those applying for funding for Canada Summer Jobs program to disavow their opposition to abortion on religious grounds. Christopherson, a pro-choice proponent, clearly believes one should not be punished on matters of conscience. Phony, feel-good politically correct push-button issues may be for Trudeau and Trudeau-lite but what about integrity, respecting those who actually understand what it means to stand on principle?

The next time a politician or a party asks for your input or ideas, see what happens when you take them up on it. It’s not ideas or input they want. What they want is your gullibility, your vote and your dollars.

Well, those days of giving are over for me. I am tired of being conned, lied to, and treated as a sucker by all parties. I am not surprised that liberals and conservatives treat voters that way; I am that the NDP has joined them.

I am not leaving the party; the party has abandoned me. I am not fearful of the word “socialism” as in “democratic socialism”. Cowards and snobs turn their backs on their roots. And I am not shamed by the thought of a party with a conscience, that believes in decency. Under Singh and today’s NDP leadership, even fairness has taken a beating. That’s just not right.

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But such is the irresistible nature of truth, that all it asks and all it wants, is the liberty of appearing. – Thomas Paine.

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They that can give up essential liberties to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety. — Benjamin Franklin

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DOUG FORD & DONALD TRUMP: TRUTH TAKES A BEATING

True genius resides in the capacity for evaluation of uncertain, hazardous, and conflicting information. – Winston Churchill

Fraud and falsehood only dread examination. Truth invites it. – Thomas Cooper

Frank A. Pelaschuk

What is truth?
We cannot ask our leaders because too many are strangers to truth. We hear America’s president Donald Trump and Ontario’s Doug Ford and their gang members talk constantly of “fake” news both refusing to answer questions they don’t like or from reporters they consider unsympathetic or, as does Trump, as “enemies of the American people”, i.e., Trump himself. Some, as had Ford, steal pages from others, making a show of media scrums with staff members in attendance solely for the purpose of loudly drowning out questions posed by members of the press and/or to show support for the new premier at taxpayer expense.
Theirs is the method of tyrants, bullies and liars who fear scrutiny and reject the notion of an open society and the public’s right to know for they are aware that with an open society comes the onus of responsibility and care in how one acts and what one says. For such as these, this kind of responsibility is restrictive and intolerable because it naturally lends to scrutiny and scepticism often in the form of pointed questions demanding honest responses. From most of our leaders, we seldom get that and, from some, Trump and Ford, almost never. A truly free society must, perforce, include and support a truly free press, a press free to ask questions without risk of intimidation, threat and reprisal notions that are anathema to the despotically inclined. Even so, even for Trump and Ford, shutting down the media is not an option while ignoring it too obvious: What is there to fear tenuous supporters may ask. More acceptable, even to those very supporters to whom Ford panders and whose tax dollars he says he wants to save and likely with a prayer of thanks to Stephen Harper, is the creation of his own taxpayer funded propaganda machine on the government website. That way he not only responds to soft questions from “fake” party hack “journalists” (conservative staffers) with his own version of the “facts”, he can also offer the constant iteration of how the mainstream media have it “in” for him and his supporters. You see, one constant in the mostly conservative war against the press is this: For Trump, Ford and all their kind, they are always victims of a vast conspiracy; anyone challenging or questioning them is out to “get” them and “those” folks out to get them are usually members of the “liberal establishment elites”.
For Ford and Trump and all their kind, there is no truth, no fact, but the truth and fact of what propels their agenda, their goals, their party and personal ambitions. Nothing more forcefully demonstrates this than the comments made by two members of Donald Trump’s inner circle. In January 2017, Counselor to the President, Kellyanne Conway, during an interview on Meet the Press, infamously defended Press Secretary Sean Spicer’s vastly inflated estimate of the crowd size during Trump’s inauguration saying Spicer “gave alternative facts…”! Not to be outdone, Rudolph Giuliani, Trump’s lawyer, appearing on the same show 20 months later, claimed that “Truth isn’t truth” a reaffirmation of the hidebound denialism of those who refuse to be open to anything but their own version of a gong show reality. For them, truth is a crap shoot, it is immaterial, a hindrance and unacceptable when it conflicts with their mythology. Even with the best will in the world, they cannot be offered the benefit of the doubt of having misspoke. There is no doubt. They may be vile but they are not necessarily stupid people; there is no misspeaking: they deliberately lie seeking to drag us into their Alice-in-Wonderland worldview, a world that many of their supporters apparently willingly inhabit of blind, unquestioning adherence to a belief or philosophy and/or, more likely, “a gut feeling”, that all things that do not conform to what they want to believe, to hear and to have confirmed, are suspect, wrong and not to be trusted. For me, it is difficult to declare for whom I hold the most contempt…those tin-pot despots eager to exploit and manipulate or those who gladly soak it in with minds in neutral and eyes glazed. For petty autocrats, such supporters are a bonanza for any claims of “fake news” are fodder to them who often seem prone to conspiracy theories (the American government was behind 9/11; Obama is not an American; the earth is flat and our governments don’t want us to know). These folk, who likely haven’t read a complete newspaper article in years let alone a newspaper, often appear to receive, and pass on, their information from Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter sources written by unknown, unreliable and dishonest attention seeking noisemakers with solid assurances that “this is real”.
In a way, sadly, it is, even if a really stupid way to inform oneself; theirs is a world lived online wherein only that with which they find agreeable is acceptable. Politicians of the ilk of Ford love this for these are the kind of people they hope to reach; it’s about winning and what better way to do so than playing on ignorance and manipulating the fears and baser instincts as did Kellie Leitch and Chris Alexander during the last election campaign and as Maxime Bernier, one-time leadership candidate for the Conservative party and loser to Andrew Scheer does today. While not all Conservatives are mean, the gang under Stephen Harper, many of whom still hold office under Scheer, are a nasty lot, Bernier particularly so because, beneath his impeccably manicured facade, there resides a foul cretin loudly and proudly broadcasting the depths to which he will sink in the form of bigotry that so many Conservative supporters find so appealing.
For Conservative supporters, however, not even the pretence of ambition can be offered as an excuse for vile attitudes; all they have is self-pity and the need to blame: nothing is their fault. For them, and always with encouragement from those willing to use them, there is the inchoate feelings of uneasiness, suspicion and anger: the world is a fearful, dangerous place and they are hapless victims, pawns of others: Big Government, Big Business, Big Unions; the list is endless; they are being dragged and held down by immutable forces they cannot and never had the ability to fight against. They are scared and told they are right to be frightened. They feel themselves losing and feel they are losers and are told they are losing and are losers. They long for something, anything, that will give their lives a sense of purpose and of fulfillment; they want change but feel helpless and floundering in their daily struggle because all they know is they want change, more and better but change from what and to what they are mostly unable to articulate. Ask any supporter of Trump or Doug Ford and their ilk what it is they want change from. Chances are, they cannot. They want easy fixes in the way of easy answers and grand promises. They want assurances they are, indeed, victims, that they deserve better, and that there is a fix.
And if you were to ask them why they believe the mainstream media is “fake”, they again will likely fail the test because the probability is they feed off bloggers with an agenda (mischief, political, who really knows?), from Facebook, Instagram and Twitter as noted above or from those Snake-Oil political salesmen slithering into their lives with the cure-all elixir for all the fears and ills of their lives; perhaps Ford’s “a-buck-a-beer” is the answer; they may need it when the costs of his cuts begin to add up.
Curiously, even as they proclaim distrust of politicians, they still insist on lapping up the same vague promises and poisonous nonsense by those very same people who have lied to them time and again.
But why? Certainly it is not because they seek honest men and women. If so, most in office having proven themselves liars would have been gone long ago. They certainly don’t want truthful people because, again, most of our elected folk would be long gone. Politicians are fond of saying, “Voters know best”. That’s what they like to say for public consumption. They also know better. Voters often make no effort to examine or understand party platforms. Doug Ford offered no detailed platform as he campaigned; even so, he won with a majority. Ontario voters simply did not care; they wanted change and opted for someone who offered nothing rather than the NDP party that did. They did not need to reflect on that they heard, read or saw because they wanted nothing to reflect on. These were not intelligent voters. And that, too, elated conservatives.
It could be that voters are simply too lazy, too willing to let others do their thinking for them, to let others tell them what they want and what they need. Maybe they love playing the role of mothered baby: yes, you are a victim, yes, the world is out to get you, yes, you need me to care for you, to love you, to save you money. Voters must accept responsibility but that requires effort to understand the political issues that affect their lives and be able to differentiate between want and need. Everyone wants to be well off but we all need good health. We must set our priorities and among them is to determine fact from fancy; it is not enough to embrace only that with which we agree but embrace instead that which works towards our interests and which includes the interests and welfare of others. We are, for better or worse, members of one community; tribalism as practiced by too many of our politicians leads to insularity and exclusion; it damages and fractures and encourages anger, blame and suspicion. How can we trust any politician who appeals to the worst in us and who states he knows all the answers while refusing to acknowledge let alone even listen to the voices of others? We cannot. There is nothing wrong with ambition or having goals; there is with using any method, fair or foul, to achieve those aims. Demonizing the media as a fraternity of “lickspittle elites” by which is meant, and in which is included, not only journalists but also educators, jurists, scientists, artists, business folk and, yes, even politicians who happen to disagree with them, is diversionary, divisive and destructive. How can knowledge be the enemy of anyone let alone a nation?
Truth has nothing to do with the revision of history or the denial of another’s humanity. Too many Conservatives do not seem to understand that. Nor is truth achieved by undoing the works of another simply because that work was done by that other. Trump, Ford and ilk of their kind are anti-truth simply because truth will not serve their purpose. They are despoilers and haters and serve no one but themselves and their friends. They are anti-democratic rigging the game as Harper sought to do with his so-called Fair Elections Act and as Ford seeks to do with his gerrymandering interference of the Toronto municipal election just months away.
What is truth? Rudolph Giuliani has it wrong; there is no My Truth or Your Truth. There is only Truth. What purpose does it serve in your daily life? Do you care? You should. Information from any source, particularly political, should not be swallowed holus-bolus. It must be studied carefully, evaluated with even greater care and then mulled over some more. Truth is not always easy, it may offend you because it is not what you want to hear. But if, in reasoning, you embrace it as true even as every fibre in your being may scream in opposition, it just may be. Our politicians will never be the answer; knowledge is.

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But such is the irresistible nature of truth, that all it asks and all it wants, is the liberty of appearing. – Thomas Paine

They that can give up essential liberties to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety. — Benjamin Franklin

FORD, SCHEER AND CONSERVATIVES: NUT BARS OR FRUIT CAKES?

There is a limit to the success of conservative populism and the exploitation of “little guy” or “silent majority” rhetoric, and it is very often reached because of the emaciated, corrupted personalities of the demagogues themselves. – Christopher Hitchens

Populism is folkish, patriotism is not. One can be a patriot and a cosmopolitan. But a populist is inevitably a nationalist of sorts. Patriotism, too, is less racist than is populism. A patriot will not exclude a person of another nationality from the community where they have lived side by side and whom he has known for many years, but a populist will always remain suspicious of someone who does not seem to belong to his tribe. – John Lukas

Frank A. Pelaschuk

Doug Ford and his shrill sidekick, Lisa Macleod, in fact, the whole gang of Ontario MPP neanderthals and their federal and provincial counterparts, seem to be following the path loved by certain types of politicos of the day: parochial, dishonest, mean-spirited, ignorant, craven, self-serving, hypocritical, abusive, lying, media-hating, science-denying, thought-aversive, punitive, vindictive, petty, dogmatic, autocratic, and fossilized.
Ideas, if they have any, are so immured in locked minds that not a hint of light is discernible as if a requirement that not a ray be allowed to penetrate — ever. They swept into office and immediately set to work dismantling every liberal piece of legislation put in place by the Kathleen Wynne government; it doesn’t matter if the ideas were good, bad or indifferent, they took office in the way of thugs swinging metal bars and bats bent on the destruction of anything they don’t like, don’t understand and don’t support. Doug and his gang don’t like much, understand even less and support only that which plays to the worst instincts held by their supporters: that they are victims of Big Government and Liberal elites; that asylum-seekers are not only to be feared but receive preferential treatment over “legitimate” border crossers and Canadian-born citizens; that those on low income deserve even less and should get off their butts. They whine, really whine, about the decline of our infrastructures: failing roads and overpasses; the state of our education; and they whine, really whine about the shortage of doctors, hospital closures, the interminable wait times in emergency rooms while whining, screaming, that taxes are too, too, TOO, high. The Progressive (now talk about misnomers!) Conservatives have made an art out of playing on stupidity and fear encouraging the concept of victimhood and finger-pointing: it’s not them, it’s them. So they target opponents as liberals and socialistic elites but, if pressed as to what they mean by either, will often prove themselves ignorant on both or offer the usual bromides: soft on crime, tax-and-spend, pro-refugee, anti-life baby-killers. Everyone apparently needs his or her bogeyman. For Ford supporters, indeed for conservatives across the country it appears, the bogeyman is often new or reworked ideas progressives call progressive and conservatives find suspect, frightening, and foreign: too much emphasis on feminism and gender equality; too much tolerance of niqab-, turban-wearing newcomers; climate change isn’t proven; those on welfare are bums. And what about that Middle Eastern family next door who recently moved into the neighbourhood. Are they legal? Are they economic refugees? Are they asylum seekers? How do we know they’re not terrorists? Why don’t they dress like Canadians? Why are we allowing so many into our country? Grab the cell phone and record their movements. It’s that damn Trudeau’s fault; he just threw open the doors to anyone especially those Muslims.
Racism has always played a role in Canada, a fact we consistently ignore and too often deny, but the increasing tide of hostility towards newcomers appears to be the legacy of Stephen Harper’s last campaign (remember Kellie Leitch and Chris Alexander and the Snitch Line) and with the rise of populists as reflected by Trump and Trump-lite Ford fanning the flames of suspicion and intolerance with unproven claims of crisis at the border to Liberal assurances that that is not the case. Fomenting fear is an unproductive distraction; it does nothing to solve the problem of refugee claimants if there is a problem. The Trudeau liberals certainly could have done a better job regarding refugees but making life more difficult for those already having a hard go of it is not a solution and is unworthy of a nation that often boasts of being one of the most welcoming and tolerant on earth. Recent polls suggest that is no longer true if it ever was. Behaviour by politicians exploiting and exacerbating reasonable concerns regarding asylum seekers along with recent videos of fearful, bigoted Canadians harassing identifiable minorities should be enough to safely put that myth of smug moral superiority to rest once-and-for-all.
As is often the way of small, mean people with an even smaller vision, provincial conservatives, Scott Moe, Brian Pallister and Doug Ford, as do their federal counterparts, almost always believe it necessary to point fingers and blame others whether merited or not for any failures in society especially if those blamed are liberals just booted from office. So, for them, as with Trump, the media, perceived by conservatives as a cabal of liberal elites, becomes the target because one thing liars and sewer rats detest is light of any kind: facts are often a hindrance to their worldview therefore unwanted and unnecessary to the cause. For them, as with all of a despotic nature, an informed, educated populace is a dangerous populace; best keep the ignorant ignorant; so, to that end, stoke the flames of fear, warn citizens against the invasion of asylum seekers and economic refugees and the extreme likelihood of terrorists slipping into the country; tell them at every opportunity they’ve been lied to by a press made up of elites passing on FAKE NEWS not wanting you to know that the government is corrupt, is out to take away your rights, and is stealing all your hard earned money to help those foreigners get into the country, get more than you, and take your jobs: in short, you are the victim of a vast conspiracy of bleeding heart liberal-socialists. Of course, the ignorant lap it up for it confirms what they have always known but never been able to articulate: thank God for Trump and Fox News in the US and for Scheer and Ford and Rempel and Macleod and The Rebel Media at home who aren’t afraid to tell it like it is or, at least, tell us what we want to hear regardless of how crazy. And crazy it is.
Conservative supporters are much like the smokers of my day who refused to except the thousand science studies proving cigarettes cause cancer preferring instead to embrace, gasping for breath all the while, the single tobacco-sponsored study refuting all such claims: cigarettes are safe. Today, it’s Climate Change; it’s not happening, even if it is, it’s not man-made and any government intervention is nothing more than a TAX GRAB. It’s twisted, but that’s how ideologues win support: facts are unimportant; just give folks what they want to hear: You’re not the problem; you’re a victim.
For Ford, as with his federal counterpart, Stephen Harper, now longer in office and making mischief elsewhere, it is not enough to twist, ignore and/or make up facts, it is not enough to demonize journalists and the press, it is far better to muzzle it and what better way to suppress the media than to use taxpayer dollars to create your own propaganda organ and call it “Ontario News Now”. Now you can not only get true fake news with fake “journalists”, you can get it 24/7. And guess whose paying for it, Sucker. The very person whose money Ford says he wants to save.
Yeah, he wants to save your money. So he cancels Kathleen Wynne’s carbon program and allocates $30 million to fight the federal government on the imposition of a tax on provinces that do not come up with a carbon price program of their own. Ontario and the other provinces will likely lose the case but they don’t care because their real concern is demonstrating to their supporters that they are fighting on their behalf with a federal government of elites out to screw them. Conservative supporters will lap it up, run to the Ontario government website and click on Ontario News Now for the “real” truth and walk away deeply content in having once again confirmed what they already know: conservatives are the only ones capable of telling the truth and the truth is they are victims of an insidious liberal government conspiracy. But you will never hear that from the liberal media.
Kathleen Wynne, the wicked witch may be gone but everything she and her government have put in place has not only been bad, it has been DISASTROUS. Now that’s bad.
So, if Wynne’s carbon plan, as well as Trudeau’s, was disastrous, terrible, bordering on CALAMITOUS, what else has she put in place that could be as bad, maybe even worse?
Perhaps the basic income pilot project that was to be tested over three years. Now that’s pretty bad because, well, not to be too churlish about it or to make too fine a point, it’s a program that’s reaching into my wallet, taking my hard earned dollars, to help a bunch of poor, low income people whom I don’t know and could care less about. Why? I’m not responsible for their miserable lives. And the Ontario conservatives agree with me. Hell, they even broke their campaign promise to see the program to the end and are cutting a planned three per cent increase to social assistance by half. Why? Because, Lisa Macleod says, it’s a “disincentive” to work.
The program started near the end of last year. Yet less than a year into the three year test period, certainly not enough time to make an informed decision as to its effectiveness, but enough time to attack the poor and desperate simply because conservatives have a propensity to meanness and for categorizing the poor as shiftless or not trying hard enough, it’s been cut. The program involved 4000 low income people in various Ontario communities; it was one of the largest test projects of its kind eliciting world wide interest. It didn’t and doesn’t matter to Ford and gang. Singles received up to $16, 989 a year while couples received $24,027. If they had a job, the government would clawback 50% of every dollar earned. Did the project work? Lisa Macleod claimed it was failing recipients from becoming “independent contributors to the economy”. How could she make that determination when the project was axed before it became fully functional? One thing is certain: Ford and gang where not interested in knowing if the program worked. It was gone as far as they are concerned. What was at play here was just pure partisan political malice directed against a liberal Wynne government program with only the very poor taking the bullet.
This was not just the act of an unkind group of people; it was the act of nasty people.
I have in my long life met many conservatives with whom I have had disagreements but who were and are kind and generous and open to ideas and truth. Sadly, in my opinion, they are too few. Too many are like Trump and his followers and like Maxime Bernier, Kellie Leitch, Michelle Rempel, Pierre Poilievre, Stephen Harper, Doug Ford, Lisa Macleod and their supporters. They are too shrill, too angry, too invested in their own interests and peeves to be concerned in yours or mine. Harper was a petty individual with a despot’s heart. Ford and thugs are the same.
In a few weeks time, municipal elections are to take place. Last week, just hours before cutoff time for candidates to put their name forward, Ford, unilaterally, in a truly anti-democratic and vindictive move, went after Toronto and the incumbent mayor declaring he would cut the number of council members to half its size. There was no consultation.
It was a petty act by a petty man wrapped in a big body with a pea brain.
The world is harsh enough for far too many with little to no resources. No one, least of all these, need the added burden of cruel, spiteful, selfish, tight-fisted political mercenaries targeting them. What Ford and gang are doing is not fiscally responsible, not being tough on waste, and certainly doing nothing to solve very serious problems. It’s just a cruel slapdash way of governance that allows the petty and mean to crow about acting and then clapping their hands dismissively as they ignore the pain and bewilderment of the poor and disadvantaged disposed as easily as one does trash.
Truth is not a plaything. Truth may be played with, it may be used and abused and deployed for unholy and selfish ends by the unscrupulous and vile. Truth is a light towards justice. If we want both, it is up to us to be vigilant and protective of both. We must not blindly accept anyone’s truth as gospel nor should we be foolishly closed to any truth or idea because it is not ours. An open mind is called for. When presented a story, a fact, it is best to study what we hear, see and feel before we embrace it wholly. Denying what we don’t like doesn’t make something any less true than embracing what we like makes it more true.
I am no more a fan of Trudeau than I was of Harper or Scheer. He is dishonest and untrustworthy and I believe his feminism a prop and his public displays of empathy fulsome and too full of self-regard…is the public taking notice? Nor was I a fan of Wynne’s governance though I did like her personally. The Ontario liberals were incompetent and too many of their actions suggested not all members were as honest as I would have liked. But I never thought of Wynne as mean or vindictive or full of herself.
I cannot say the same of Ford, Macleod, and the rest in his gang. They are not people I trust. When he ran for office, Ford offered no platform, gave no information. He would cut taxes but not tell us how or what would be sacrificed. In office, he has dismantled programs and legislation for no other reason than Wynne’s liberals were behind them. He has even cut the Wynne school sex education program reverting to one from twenty years ago and which educators say is outdated. Going back and erasing the work of the previous government is not a plan nor governance when nothing is offered to replace what has been destroyed. Ford’s is the thinking of those behind the government Phoenix payroll debacle. Get rid of the old; we’ll worry about the new later. We can see where he may be heading. If you are poor, alone, in need of assistance, God help you. Ford and his kind will not.

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But such is the irresistible nature of truth, that all it asks and all it wants, is the liberty of appearing. – Thomas Paine.

They that can give up essential liberties to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety. — Benjamin Franklin

LOVE ME, LOVE ME, LOVE ME, I’M A LIBERAL: Trudeau Gropes With Hypocrisy

Two things fill the mind with ever new and increasing wonder and awe — the starry heavens above me and the moral law within me. — Immanuel Kant

Sure, once I was young and impulsive; I wore every conceivable pin,
Even went to Socialist meetings, learned all the old Union hymns.
Ah, but I’ve grown older and wiser, and that’s why I’m turning you in.
So love me, love me, love me, I’m a liberal. — Phil Ochs

Frank A. Pelaschuk

He ran full of boastful swagger and showy humility declaring his would be a different and better government, not only cleaner and with set of self-imposed ethical mandates but also truly representative with a gender-balanced cabinet with women playing significant roles. He was a feminist, you see, and wasn’t shy of reminding us — endlessly. As well, without any great public demand for it, with smug self-congratulatory defiant fanfare, he declared 2015 would be the last ever first-past-the-post Canadian election. Sounded good and the public voted; the pure of heart defeated the forces of darkness. Goodby Stephen Harper, hello Justin Trudeau.
The rodomontade promises were excessive, magnified hope and the big-rock-candy-mountain future; in his own words, “sunny ways, sunny ways” were here again, Trudeaumania revived, more potent than ever: peace and love reigned over the world. Well, Canada at the least, Trudeau’s no Trump. But fairy tales are for kids; even so, too many adults wanted to believe, buying in and still do; “give him a chance, give him a chance” say those to the doubters and critics. For some, however, the shock of recognition and disappointment quickly hit, hitting hard, the hopeful wavering, faltering, struck numb: They’re all the same after all, aren’t they.
Trudeau was no naïf nor his crew inexperienced. He knew exactly what he was doing. Most didn’t care but a few did and do. The scales began to fall from the eyes and hands began to wave away the cobwebs. The portrait of the handsome saviour prince and crew slowly emerges, a little clearer and more realistic, of consummate schemers, wheelers and dealers oozing, simply oozing charm, smarm, buzz words tripping off the tongues and attitudes and promises deployed as skilfully as any con baiting traps for lonely, befuddled, gullible prey; when challenged concerns are blissfully brushed aside…”it’s legal”, “we didn’t know the full picture”, deceptions, broken promises, the failures of ethics and stricken expressions of betrayed believers ignored.
Within months if not weeks, there was news, “sticky fingers”, and Trudeau instructing cabinet ministers to repay expense claims to which they were not entitled and defending those routinely breaking conflict of interest guidelines again and again, the justice minister once ludicrously justifying a fundraiser paid for by lawyers with the claim she had attended the event as a member of the Liberal party and not as the Justice Minister! Oh, it may be risible were it not so predictable and offensive; Trudeau, the handsome prince, was to be the exemplar but, as often happens in fairy tales, the prince is not always what he seems, the toad part of him increasingly exposed with each question tossed his way and denial hurled back.
There are always those who believe they are entitled to a free pass and those who always get it. Trudeau is apparently one such. Unfortunately, far too many are willing to play along.
Why?
Time and time again he and his gang broke his own loudly ballyhooed ethical mandates. Apparently no one noticed or cared: a flash of smile, furrowed brows, fingers tapping over the heart, and eyes oozing, simply ooze sincerity is all it takes for Trudeau and others like him, those guileful manipulators who know how to work the mob of innocents and/or fools. And Trudeau does. Still, with Trudeau, the “mistakes” occur far too often; one would think that even the half awoke would ask themselves, “Should we trust a man that careless and, if so, how much?”
Well, not much.
If he was to be the shining beacon, he demonstrated that not all pretty packages are that pretty though far too many still refuse to see beyond surface. While I was never convinced by him, I was, if sceptical, still willing to give him a chance. Many of us were. However, his easy dismissal of real concerns regarding conflicts of interest by the newly appointed justice minister, Jody Wilson-Raybould, his own attitude regarding secret fundraising events and his undermining of electoral reform were more than sufficient evidence his promise of “sunny ways” had been a hoax. I find it incomprehensible so many refuse to see him as the charlatan and phony he is. What do they see that I don’t?
When he was forced to rejig the committee looking into recommendations for electoral reform after being called out for stacking it with liberals, we saw clear signs of the machinator at work. Then, several weeks into its mandate, with the committee revealing early signs of a likely endorsement for proportional representation, Trudeau began to pointedly muse that the public was no longer interested in electoral reform. It wasn’t true, of course. What was true was that he was setting the stage without having yet informing the public of his preferred option: the ranked ballot system. Eventually, Trudeau’s preference became public. When it became clear that the committee would deny him what he sought, a voting system that would ensure that only two parties would govern until Canada ceased to be, the public began to stir suddenly aware that what they had long wanted and sought, fair elections, was chimera, a pipe dream. Not all options were on the table and PR was definitely not a possibility for consideration by the liberals. In Parliament, following the reform committee’s recommendation, minister of democratic institutions Maryam Monsef publicly berated the committee in Parliament for “not doing” its job, i.e., giving Trudeau what he wanted. The furor was instant, loud and public, Canadians furious by the shoddy treatment handed the committee. Seeking to repair the damage, the liberals set up a phone-in poll to look into electoral reform. That, too, as with Trudeau’s first attempt to stack the committee, had been designed to lead to a specific desired outcome. So obvious and outlandish was the move orchestrated by the PMO, public rage and the minister’s incompetence led to her removal. It was left to Karina Gould, Monsef’s replacement, to drive the stake through the heart of electoral reform.
While this had been from day one Trudeau’s baby, he had neither the stomach nor the decency to do the dirty deed himself. As a result, this self-declared feminist had left it to two neophyte female MPs to not only discredit the work of the committee but the project itself. Monsef and Gould would be associated with the failure of the reform he had set in motion and then worked to undermine. What a man!
Later, battered from the fallout of free gifts, secret fundraisers, conflicts of interest, and electoral reform, he set about to refurbish his image with town hall meetings across the country. He swaggered before the crowd loudly and defiantly boasting of not regretting walking away from electoral reform (and those countless others whose hopes he had destroyed). Shame? Not a whit. His brainless supporters lapped it up. None of them saw that smiling, smiling toad prince facing them with thumb to nose and fingers waving: SUCKERS!
So, does Trudeau believe in anything? Probably only in the things that serve him and his interests. He easy bromides appear to comfort those seeking comfort. This is a man who cares. Until he doesn’t. He believes human rights is a priority unless it conflicts with Canadian business interests as he demonstrated by signing off on Harper’s Light-Armoured Vehicle deal with human rights abuser Saudi Arabia; he believes conflicts-of-interest are major issues except when he or members of his party routinely engage in the practice. The Aga Khan Foundation still receives millions from Canada while Trudeau receives a lukewarm warning from the ethics commissioner for breaking the rules and a minor fine for accepting a pair of expensive sunglasses. Trudeau receives a pass and there’s not even a hint of shame.
But what about his feminism? We know he’s a feminist; he screams it out at every opportunity. Yet, when offered opportunities on several occasions by reporters to denounce Trump’s misogynistic comments which were made public as Trump ran for the presidency, Trudeau remained tellingly mute except to declare, “Canada does not comment on American politics” and “Everyone knows I’m a feminist”. But do we? Does saying something make it so? And why, in god’s name, does he conflate standing up against misogyny as interference in American politics? Some have suggested that his stance was “prudent”. What they meant is this: For god sakes, don’t jeopardize NAFTA by annoying Trump. That’s the stand of cowards and for folks with fluid ethics: do the right thing only when there is no possibility of it biting you. That about sums up Trudeau. Unfortunately, kissing ass isn’t always a winner with Trump; he could still dump on you. Ask Trudeau.
I have always been wary of those who noisily insist we accept their public persona of themselves as the real deal. Perhaps that is why I have never bought into Trudeau’s “feminism”; it was too showy and utterly unconvincing. It’s much like Trump’s insistence he is a smart man; where’s the evidence?
Even so, I was mildly surprised by recent reports of a nearly 20 year old groping allegation which led to a community newspaper editorial at the time. Not only does the Creston Valley Advance piece cast doubt to the strength and sincerity of Trudeau’s claim to feminism, it also suggests the feminism may be dependent on the status of the parties involved. In the opening lines of the editorial, Trudeau had apologized, if that’s what it was, with the following, “I’m sorry. If I had known you were reporting for a national paper, I never would have been so forward.” According to the young reporter at the time, who was also on assignment for the National Post, she had been groped by the future world’s most famous self-declared feminist. Mind you, in those days, all she likely knew then was he was just the son of a more famous Trudeau. It was the PMO that responded to the allegations. Trudeau could not recall any “negative interactions” at the time words, as some have pointed out, with a lawyerly ring to them. Days later, on July 1, he spoke for himself. He could not recall any “negative interactions”. Sounded familiar. Feeble, certainly, and no outright denial. On July 5, perhaps aware that his response was inadequate, following a meeting with Doug Ford, Ontario’s new premier and Trumpian-lite cretin clone of the North, he responded more fully. Said he, “I do not feel I did anything untoward. Often a man experiences an interaction as being benign or not inappropriate and a woman, particularly in a professional context can view it differently (CBC National, July 5, 2018). Weaselly legalese. Inadequate. And no firm denial.
Clearly Trudeau holds himself to a standard less than he demands of others as when, upon taking leadership of the party, he swiftly and brutally booted two members from the caucus. Not only had he offered them no opportunity to a fair hearing, he had named them and kept from the public the allegations made against them. Trudeau would later claim that his zero-tolerance policy would even apply to him. Really? Judge for yourself. He gives to himself an exemption denied Scott Andrews and Massimo Pacetti, the two Liberal MPs against whom the allegations were made. Look again at the opening statement of the Creston Valley Advance editorial: by his own words, if the reports are accurate, he thought a reporter of a small community paper was fair game as opposed to one from a national paper. That statement years ago may be forgiven as an ill-conceived apology by a young man but when coupled with his July 5th statement, one cannot help but wonder if his is indeed a deep-rooted belief regarding women and status. “Often a man experiences an interaction as being benign or not inappropriate and a woman, particularly in a professional context can view it differently.” Why “particularly in a professional context”? Perhaps menials as well as the less educated and sophisticated, as with small town reporters, are viewed as not only incapable of awareness of sexual harassment when inflicted on them but also as fair game: all hands on board!
The reporter of years ago has made clear that Trudeau did apologize as reported. She has also made clear that, for her, the matter is closed, a part of her past she has no interest in revisiting.
But voters do have a right to know of this episode and to question and challenge Trudeau’s credibility regarding his feminism and apparent double-standard regarding zero-tolerance when it comes to harassment.
He has set himself up to holding a standard that he has demanded of others. When they have failed or have been seen as failing, he has punished them. Yet he apparently is immune; for him, the bar is lower if non-existent. He is fond of legalese and weasel words and they, as much as his failures in ethics and keeping promises and his oozing, simply oozing sincerity, tell us all I need to know about the man. I see no charm, no saviour prince, no man of deep-rooted integrity. I see a phony. I see a toad.
Folk with fluid ethics and easy virtue almost always resort to legalese: “what I did was legal”. Is it really too much to demand that they also be honest and ethical?
Evidently so.

***

But such is the irresistible nature of truth, that all it asks and all it wants, is the liberty of appearing. – Thomas Paine

***

They that can give up essential liberties to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety. — Benjamin Franklin

JUSTIN TRUDEAU: THE ADORABLE ALL ROUND PC PANDERING GOOD GUY MASCOT

Will you, won’t you, will you, won’t you, will you, won’t you join the dance. — Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventure in Wonderland
The obligation to endure gives us the right to know. – Jean Rostand

Frank A. Pelaschuk

Even now, over two years after the last dance, we Canadians remain a narcotized bunch still enamoured with the Handsome Prince who charmed his way to our hearts with brash, loud, grandiose promises. We fell hard, dazzled by the Wizard, and we made it obvious throwing ourselves at his feet and swooning in paroxysms of ecstasy at mere mention of his name. Promise me anything, I’m all yours. And he did promise anything stroking the buzzwords: taxes, taxing the rich, legalization of marijuana, gender equality, child benefits, electoral reform, the middle class, openness, honesty, transparency. Never mind that he spent little time on poverty, homelessness, the single parent holding several jobs, health care, the elderly, and education. In that respect, he is no different from any other cheap politico performing before an audience of vacuous goo-goo-eyed monkeys who allow him to break rules and walk away from promises unscathed without either apology or regret indicating the extent of the self-induced coma afflicting those still supporting him.
BUT WHAT HE DELIVERED WAS NOT ALL THAT HE PROMISED
Oh, he followed through in some but his promises of openness, transparency and honesty quickly fell by the wayside revealing the true nature of his character as savvy, pragmatic, calculating, hypocritical, unethical smoothie able to bolster his image with shrewdly choreographed photo-ops and overacted displays of empathy that should alert anyone half awake wooing with dazzling smiles, accommodating selfie hungry fans and demonstrating in a trice the ability to establish the deepest of concerns and utmost affection simply by furrowing his brow and pursing his lips thoughtfully. If the occasion is particularly important, a commemorative event or a death of a dignitary or some other sombre happening, he is particularly adept at publicly displaying the depth of his emotional warmth and will, on cue and at any opportunity, empathetically tap his breast with his fingers and wring the exact number of tears required to match the magnitude of the event always making certain the cameras have caught him discreetly dabbing the corner of his eye. We like it and we buy it for we are a superficial, ignorant, and indifferent group attentive primarily on the silly in our lives as if they were profound: an opportunity to get a selfie with him or breathe the same air or exclaiming over his courage in facing the public at town hall meetings to respond to unvetted questions from the public. It is at such events that the Prince is at his best proudly showcasing his ability to work the crowd of mostly friendly faces while he explains in response to a question from an audience member who clearly believes that some things are really important, how he came to unapologetically undermine and then turn his back on electoral reform a major element of his campaign platform, particularly proportional representation as recommended by the committee formed to look into such reform: 1) the public has lost interest; 2) proportional representation would lead to fragmentation; 3) PR could lead to the election of terrorist; 4) PR “would be harmful to Canada”; 5) the ranked ballot system (Trudeau’s preferred voting system) would not necessarily benefit his party [He’s right. Historically, Canadians have only elected Liberals and Conservatives as federal governments; barring some seismic shift in voter attitudes, the Ranked Ballot would most likely continue if not cement the trend of shutting out the NDP and Greens]; 6) nothing convinces him that PR is a better system though it is the preferred system of Germany and 80 other democracies (and this guy was a teacher; a closed mind is worse than a closed book); 7) and, if re-elected and revisited, electoral reform would not include PR as an option. On this issue, his responses are disingenuous and diversionary; at no time during his campaign, did the Prince indicate that PR was not on the table or that he had reservations regarding PR. Yet, in his conversation with Chris Hall on CBC’s The House, (Feb. 3, 2018, http://www.cbc.ca/listen/shows/the-house/segment/15518052) he makes clear what he had not while campaigning on electoral reform: PR was not and never had been in the running while the ranked or preferential ballot system was. This was Trudeau’s preference which only became clear when Trudeau set out to undermine the committee when it became clear the ranked ballot was not in the running. And it quickly became clear that reform was dead when the committee made its recommendation for some form of PR and the minister of democratic institutions, Maryam Monsef, slammed the committee for not doing it’s job. Shortly after, her replacement Karina Gould drove the stake through the heart of the idea of reform. Trudeau, the rodomontade who had boldly declared 2015 the last first-past-the-post election, couldn’t even kill off an idea no one had sought but he knew many wanted. He also knew when he made that promise he would kill it if he did not get what he wanted. But he said nothing of that so people went through the process with high hopes and belief that all options were on the table; they trusted Trudeau and believed him to be fair, a man of his word. He was neither. When the committee denied him the option of the ranked ballot electoral reform was a dead as Marley’s ghost.
Still, while the town hall meetings did highlight the Prince’s skill before a crowd, it also revealed an unpleasant darker side. When a few publicly challenged Trudeau at the town hall meetings regarding this and other issues he and his supporters may have found irksome, the questioners were loudly shouted down by the Prince’s supporters while he played the pacifier thus confirming and entrenching his image of tolerant conciliator unfairly targeted by troublemakers. Unfortunately, there were episodes in which persistent questioners (hecklers to the Prince’s fans) were forcibly removed with Trudeau orchestrating it in such a way in one instance to emphasize his egalitarianism simply by asking the audience if a persistent heckler should be allowed to ask a questions. Unsurprisingly, the loyal if bloodthirsty fans shouted a resounding, “No” with the end result of having the heckler forcibly removed. It was the fallen gladiator and the Emperor looking to the mob for guidance with the thumb up or down, live or die? That move by Trudeau, whether the heckler deserved it or not, was the act of a bully performing before a witless and friendly mob more in thrall with defending the Wizard than with the valid concerns raised by the questioners and, yes, even hecklers. How much courage does it take to respond to difficult questions when the audience is largely made of adoring fans absolutely pissing their pants to do the Wizard’s bidding and when most of his questioners, unlike the Prince, is likely unaccustomed and even terrified of speaking before an crowd that might be unhappy with the question posed? His cavalier treatment of those who sincerely wanted nothing more than an honest response to questions regarding his support of pipelines and abandonment of electoral reform, possible reasons they may have voted for him, should offend everyone. It was clever, but the act of a bully nonetheless.
WHAT IS THERE TO ADMIRE IN TRUDEAU?
He is an opportunist, about image, pandering to the easy and the popular only as long as they do not conflict with his own agenda; when they do, he discards them without a backward glance and certainly no public apology. He has betrayed almost everything that he would have had us believe mattered when he campaigned for the most important job in Canada. He turned his back on human rights to lock a lucrative arms deal with one of the worlds worst abusers contravening UN sanctions and Canada’s own guidelines regarding arms trade with human rights abusers. And when critics spoke up against the sale of Canadian-made Light Armoured Vehicles to Saudi Arabia, a very lucrative deal, he lied about why he did so. The LAV deal was a done deal under Harper, he said. Not so. It was his government that signed off on the deal. He then said breaking a contract would harm Canada’s reputation. Really? On something as important as human rights? Liberal prime minister Jean Chretien had no difficulty breaking a contract for Cormorant helicopters simply because it was brokered by Brian Mulroney in 1993; that cost Canadians $478 million in penalties but seems not to have negatively impacted Canada’s reputation as a country with which to deal. With Trudeau, human rights takes a back seat when it comes to trade. That’s why he is willing to do a helicopter trade deal with the murderous Philippines president, Rodrigo Duterte, who has engaged in an extrajudicial war on drugs with the slaughter of 12,000 suspects many of whom were completely innocent but dead for simply being in the wrong place or friends and family members of suspects. But supporters of the Prince are only concerned with obtaining a selfie with him and he, as we all know, will never shy away from a camera.
Thus far, nothing sticks to Trudeau. Within months of winning his mandate, it became evident how seriously he observed his own directives to his cabinet ministers with mandate letters. He wrote: As Minister, you must ensure that you are aware of and fully compliant with the Conflict of Interest Act and Treasury Board policies and guidelines.  You will be provided with a copy of Open and Accountable Government to assist you as you undertake your responsibilities.  I ask that you carefully read it and ensure that your staff does so as well. I draw your attention in particular to the Ethical Guidelines set out in Annex A of that document, which apply to you and your staff. As noted in the Guidelines, you must uphold the highest standards of honesty and impartiality, and both the performance of your official duties and the arrangement of your private affairs should bear the closest public scrutiny. This is an obligation that is not fully discharged by simply acting within the law.  Please also review the areas of Open and Accountable Government that we have expanded or strengthened, including the guidance on non-partisan use of departmental communications resources and the new code of conduct for exempt staff.
But evidently that was a lark, for public consumption only and not to be taken seriously. He didn’t. Nor did Jody Wilson-Raybould, newly appointed justice minister, who, within months of the election, attended a fundraising event sponsored by a law firm in a clear violation of conflict of interest; Trudeau stoutly defended her while the minister made this ludicrous disclaimer: She had attended the event as a party member not as a cabinet minister! You see, they believe everyone either doesn’t care or is a simpleton.
Since then, of course, we have been witness to many such conflicts of interest with many ministers and the Prince himself attending many lucrative, highly secretive fundraising events sponsored and attended by those standing to benefit by the decisions of those government worthies. What makes it most offensive is that Prince Trudeau and members of the PMO lied for weeks about many of the events he attended claiming he often made unplanned stops at fundraisers without knowing who would be in attendance (very unlikely for security reasons), that he never talked with attendees about business matters before the government (later changing his story that some sought to raise business but were directed to go through the proper channels). At one of these meetings attended by Chinese millionaires and billionaires, two attendees would donate $50K towards a statue of the Prince’s father, $200K towards the Pierre Eliot Trudeau Foundation and $750K towards scholarships for the University of Montreal law faculty. As I noted in previous posts, a month later, one of those attendees lobbying the government had won approval to open and operate Wealth One Bank of Canada. Eventually, after months of questioning by the opposition, Trudeau agreed to end the cash-for-access fundraisers making it easier for members of the public to attend and to open them for the media. Shortly after that announcement, when the media sought to attend an event, they were barred. So much for openness and transparency.
Trudeau is an honest man, yes he is, but he was found in breach of conflict guidelines by Mary Dawson, Ethics Commissioner at the time, for accepting a free ride over the Christmas season to the private island of the Aga Khan whose foundation has received $330 million from Canada since 1981 with a promise by Trudeau for another $55 million over the next five years. His explanation? The Aga Khan was a family friend. Of his father, perhaps, but not so much the Prince according to Dawson. Small stuff, Trudeau’s fans may sniff, but not so small a breach when he dismisses the episode with a shrug saying he has apologized and complied with all the rules. That is the fallback explanation of weasels, resorting to legalese whether rightly or not of following the letter of the law, the bare minimum at that, while ignoring the ethical. This is the man who demands of his ministers what he does not of himself. When his ministers made unwarranted expense claims, he made them reimburse the public purse; one had to do so three times. Yet, when Conservatives questioned him about repaying some of the cost of that vacation ride, a government plane on stand-by, staff, friends, and security who also took the ride, he stuck to script repeating, almost word for word the legalese that provided no answers. Apparently, the script was handed over to Government House leader, Bardish Chagger, for she responded to the same questions with identical words in Trudeau’s absence adding, in response to protests from the opposition: “I respond the same way because the opposition keeps asking the same questions.” Amusing.
SO ELECTORAL REFORM, ETHICS, HUMAN RIGHTS WENT BY THE WAYSIDE
As promised, Trudeau did open most of the Veterans offices closed by the Conservatives under Harper. But what of his promise to reinstate the lifelong disability pension plan for vets? No luck there. For a clear summary of the Harper cuts, go to the Tyee website https://thetyee.ca/Opinion/2015/08/19/Conservative-Attacks-Canadian-Veterans/. It was Harper who got rid of the plan replacing it with a one-time lump sum payment. After two years, there has been movement by the liberals towards reinstatement of some parts of the life-long disability pension plan to start in 2019 but clearly it is not enough and offers even less than when it was razed by Harper in 2006. Veterans, confounded and feeling betrayed, have gone to court. When vet Brock Blaszczk, who had lost a leg while serving in Afghanistan, asked at a town hall why the Prince was fighting the vets on this, Trudeau responded, “they are asking more than we can afford”! This of men and women who have willingly put everything, including their lives and limbs, on the line for this country.
Vets ask too much! This from a man who turned his back on the veterans as easily as he did electoral reform.
So, how does he stack up as a feminist?
On the plus side, he can, rightly, point with pride to his gender balanced cabinet with women heading several key departments. That is the good.
What is not so good is the extent of the silliness to which he will resort in his effort to pander to any group or cause that seems likely to engender wide support. In other words, he is a politically correct gadfly jerk. At a recent town hall meeting, he interrupted a female questioner’s long-winded preamble to a question by suggesting her usage of the word “mankind” be replaced by “peoplekind” as more appropriate eliciting applause from the crowd and the questioner. While this was clearly meant as a joke, a dumb one at that, it is indicative of his character and of those to whom he panders; they will gladly twist themselves into unmanageable knots to forgive him everything and prove themselves in step with the “new” orthodoxy of gender neutral bubble-headed PC imbecility. It was a stupid joke and does not merit the attention and ridicule it garnered except for the fact that Trudeau’s lifelong friend and top advisor in the PMO, Gerald Butts, exacerbated matters by labelling those critical of his boss’s oozing, simply oozing feel-good efforts as Nazis. This kind of disrespect for critics of Trudeau is different from that of the Harper gang in what way? That is an odd response from a government seeking to pass itself as enlightened with its relentless campaign to have us embrace the image reminiscent of the sixties and seventies “flower power” movement with its “all you need is love” sappiness.
So is Trudeau a feminist? I question that. Saying so doesn’t make it so. When offered opportunity by members of the press on two occasions at least to demonstrate the strength of his commitment to feminism, Trudeau kept mum during the American presidential campaign rather than calling out misogynist Donald Trump boasting about groping women. What he said instead was this: “Everyone knows I’m a feminist.” For some, the failure by Trudeau to condemn Trump’s admission of sexual harassment merited commendation rather than censure his silence demonstrating remarkable leadership skills; Trudeau was not only tactful, he could not be lured into riling a bully with NAFTA negotiations on the horizon. Evidently, principles and integrity, as are campaign promises, are utilitarian, devices to be deployed with flash and noise only when helpful but otherwise quietly tossed aside for more congenial occasions.
He has made a great deal of his support of women, women’s rights, and the #MeToo movement; he brings his “feminist” side to the fore at every opportunity to demonstrate that he cares, really, really, really, cares. Yet, according to CTV News (Feb. 6, 2018), his government is quietly working to quash the class action lawsuit by female military personnel against the Canadian forces for sexual harassment, gender discrimination and racism leading some to charges of hypocrisy on the party of Trudeau and his government. Following the release of that report, Trudeau’s response was swift. The government action did not “align with his core beliefs”; Harjit Sajjan, the minister of defence would have the justice minister take another look at the issue. On Feb. 23, CTV News reported that the Liberal government was seeking to settle with the complainants out of court. Whatever the outcome, the Prince is one feminist of “iffy” steadfastness.
His is the political correctness of the opportunist. He will don any PC mask for any occasion. It can get him in trouble as with his trip to India this week with apparently a confused agenda — business or political — other than to offer ample opportunity for photo-ops and a moment to declare that there was a trade agreement worth $1 billion though others have put the real value at about $200 million. Apart from the exaggerated claims, the trip was a disaster, he and his family mocked for their traditional attire as with the following comments: “Is it just me or is this choreographed cuteness all just a bit much now? Also FYI we Indians don’t dress like this every day sir, not even in Bollywood.” —Omar Abdullah (@OmarAbdullah) Feb. 21, 2018 and “How did Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, the world’s favorite liberal mascot — a feminist man, with movie-star good looks, a 50 percent female cabinet and a political lexicon that has replaced “mankind” with “peoplekind” (making millions swoon) — end up looking silly, diminished and desperate on his trip to India this week” (Barkha Dutt, WashingtonPost, Feb. 22, 2018). Well, the answer is clear: Trudeau is a panderer and self-promoting PC lodestar for those who need such and it appears many do.
Then, of course, it got worse. Trudeau’s wife, Sophie Gregoire-Trudeau as well as other MPs of Trudeau’s cabinet, was photographed with a man once a member of the Sikh Youth Federation banned as a terrorist group in Canada, the U.K., the U.S. and India. Jaspal Atwal spent 20 years in prison for attempting to assassinate a Punjab politician vacationing on Vancouver Island in 1985 and was charged but not convicted of the near fatal attack on Ujjal Dosangh, a one time liberal member of parliament in 1986. To compound the disaster, that same would-be assassin was invited by Liberal MP Randeep Sarai to attend a dinner in Delhi hosted by the Canadian High Commissioner. The invitation was later rescinded but, for some critics, this affair lent credence to the belief that Canada was sympathetic to the Sikh separatist movement.
This is not a first with the Prince. Trudeau’s relentless determination to seize every seemingly positive PC opportunity for a photo-op has got him in trouble in the past as when, Dec. 19, he posed with rescued hostages Joshua Boyle, his wife and three children held by the Taliban in Afghanistan and returned home October of last year. From Oct. 14 to Dec. 30, apparently Trudeau and security unaware, Boyle was under investigation for assault, sexual assault and forcible confinement. On New Years day, 2018, he appeared in court facing 15 charges.
This is not just about security lapses. It’s about lapses of ethics and judgement by a man more interested in being all things to all people and seizing every opportunity to enhance his image with a photo-op. Sometimes it doesn’t work and the position itself is an impossibility that can only lead to contradiction and conflict. When he was elected, Trudeau spoke of “deliverology”, a buzzword indicating movement from idea to implementation. It may be appealing but has proved meaningless under his governance. It was showy in the same way his promises of electoral reform and reinstating lifelong disability pensions for vets. His appeal is that of the superficial for the superficial, the monkeys who still applaud his every utterance and drool over his every move, those who expect little and demand even less from their leaders because it is not leadership or genuine nation-building accomplishments that move them.
What does is theatrics, the great show and empty calories of eye candy, the Prince Charming and the Beautiful Princess and their beautiful family and the fact that they make appearances in Vogue, Rolling Stone and Vanity Fair. A few trinkets tossed our way is often sufficient and if promises fall by the wayside, that’s fine as well: we have a quick forgettery, endless patience and seemingly bottomless faith that the two partners we have always danced with will treat us right until they don’t.
We may notice that attractive third party on the sidelines seeking to join the dance whispering promises equally mellifluous but will not accept his offer because we fear to appear friendly to him warned by the two partners we have danced with for over 150 years that he is dangerous with dangerous ideas. They should know, we tell ourselves.
No, we will not make room to include the third party, the liberals and conservatives will just do fine. And if they ignore us during the dance, that is fine, as well. We will have danced and been fed sweet words and if we feel slighted by either, we will gently tease them about that third party waiting patiently in the wings for his turn. But the liberals and conservatives needn’t worry. We don’t mean it even if the bruising is beginning to hurt.
Where does the Prince stand? Who knows? Who can trust him? It’s a question we should not have to ask of one seeking to convince us he loves us, he really loves us. Yet I suspect he is a man of such great courage that he would abandon his loves, principles and soul for his ambitions.
NOTE: While I had left the door open with my last post, I had hoped it would indeed be my last. Unfortunately, while what I say may not be particularly new or noteworthy, there is just something about those politicians that get to me. It was Harper that started this post and Trudeau who continues it. Sorry.

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But such is the irresistible nature of truth, that all it asks and all it wants, is the liberty of appearing. – Thomas Paine.

***

They that can give up essential liberties to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety. – Benjamin Franklin

TRUDEAU, HYPOCRISY AND THE REST OF US

Hypocrisy can afford to be magnificent in its promises, for never intending to go beyond promise, it costs nothing. — Edmund Burke

With people of limited ability modesty is merely honesty. But with those who possess great talent, it is hypocrisy. — Arthur Schopenhauer

Frank Pelaschuk

WHY?
If one were to ask a neophyte politician why he/she entered politics, we would likely hear something similar to the following: “I want to give something back”; “I believe I can make a difference”; “It’s time for a change”. From this we are to glean that he or she is just the one who can deliver.
These folk may even believe it and hope their supporters will as well. And if, years later, we were to revisit them, now seasoned politicos, no longer dewy-eyed, perhaps even a bit jaded after years on the hustings, we were to ask the same question, they would likely respond in a similar vein, no longer believing any of it this time but still hoping their supporters will — again and again. The voter seldom disappoints and, federally, never. He hears variations of the same promises from all sides looking remarkably alike, casts his vote which delivers the same outcome from whichever side wins and always, always, from the same two parties that have ever governed the Nation. The voter seems incapable of noting let alone giving credence to the third or fourth parties in the room. They will listen politely but will always be lured to those offering the shinier trinkets of vague promises promoted with unctuous bombast. That is how they have always voted and will likely always vote. Change? Come every election, voters are told they want change, will say they want change but, in the end, will do what they have always done, opt for one of the two heads on the same coin. All that changes is the name of party: Liberal or Conservative. The sad reality is the voter is too timid, too easily threatened or just too stupid to do any other than what he has always done: better the devil one knows.
It’s a filthy business. Everyone, with few exceptions, touched by politics, and that means everyone, are always on the look out for the main chance: what’s in it for me? One may enter the field as innocently as any lamb with intentions pure and noble but it doesn’t take much to turn him into another slavering wolf. There is no benefit to being innocent and even less a lamb. Besides, let’s face it, going into politics for any other reason than to grab power, to hold on to it and coming out ahead is a mugs game best left for idealists who, inexplicably, believe people are basically good and deserve good in turn. What a crock! Integrity, honesty, the ability to experience shame is for suckers. But don’t ask any successful politician, he’ll smile, pat you on the back oozing, simply oozing sincerity denying that that is so and may even point to himself as refutation of that canard, smiling, brazenly daring you to deny that he is an honest man. Of course he is, you’ll agree, you know the game, you’re a player as well. When he leaves, look to see if he’s rubbing his hands smiling, smiling, smiling. It might be wise to check for your wallet.
It is unlikely that no one believed this more than Stephen Harper and his gang, many of whom now sit in opposition denouncing what they once proselytized while the Liberals, sitting where the Conservatives once sat seek to do exactly what they previously denounced.
SURE, HE’S A HYPOCRITE BUT DOES ANYONE CARE?
In politics, hypocrisy is nothing from which to shy away and is, in fact, almost de rigueur. Decency and integrity, while noble sentiments are just sentiments and tend only to be hindrances to the main goal and chance. The reality is never as inviting as the promise. The promise need not be substantial, better it is not for, if broken, abandoned, or found impractical, it may come back to haunt one if too heavily invested in by the voting public; better the promise be flimsy, unimportant but shiny, glittery and easy to fulfill; if not, the one making the promises must be mostly handsome packaging and full of fervent offerings that need only be symbolic: declare oneself a feminist; call oneself a friend of the First Nations peoples; scream that Human Rights is a priority. The symbolic requires no real commitment, just a lot of hot button words, grand empty gestures, and more promises, perhaps a concrete move of little consequence, the removal of a name from a public building, say, but nothing big or costly yet reaping huge rewards while appeasing those whose votes you seek. Just keep to the grand and empty, to the loud and flowery; they’ll sound great to the dumb and dumber more easily moved to tears by the gorgeous, sweet-talking eye-candy politicos before them than by images of homeless, starving, brutalized, dying, or dead strangers half a world away.
If anyone in politics today knows that, it is Justin Trudeau and his gang. He is a winner in the world of phonies, but sadly, he is not alone.
I will not say “all” politicians are liars and hypocrites for that is too sweeping an indictment, but I daresay “most” would be accurate. Trudeau is more adept than most in both areas prone to loud pronouncements promising the moon which seldom seem to stand up, as with electoral reform which Trudeau, full of rodomontade, proclaimed would be the end of first-past-the-post elections while keeping to himself his preferred choice of reform and what steps he would take if the end result did not meet his wants and expectations. He is, in fact, a master of the dubious and empty follow through, committed to nothing but his own desires, wants and expectations. He did not fret the consequences of his betrayal nor was there need; he knew his fans, for that’s all they are and that was all he needed. Charm and smarm, of which he possesses in plentitude, will suffice he believed. He was right. He is the golden boy and, for now, untouchable. If his supporters see the cracks and smell the hint of rot, they ignore them or do not care. None of it matters. He breaks a key election promise; he accepts gifts in the way of a free helicopter ride from a wealthy family friend whose foundation receives millions from Canadians with promises of more; he and his ministers attend fundraisers put on by the very people who stand to benefit from their decisions. That’s real conflict of interest but, what the hell, who cares? Trudeau himself met secretly with wealthy businessmen from China at a private fundraiser and lied about it when he said there was no discussion of business interests before the government (only later did he admit there had been); he turns his back on Human Rights as a priority and, while declaring himself a feminist, fails to condemn another leader for misogynistic utterances and is disturbingly silent on what his own minister of international trade, Chrystia Freeland, has condemned as “ethnic cleansing” of the Rohingya people in Myanmar. None of this touches him or his legions of fans. They simply do not care.
Make no mistake: Trudeau is as closed, secretive, and hypocritical as the worst of politicians. The preceding paragraph clearly demonstrates how he even betrayed himself when he turned his back on his own mandate in the form of letters to his ministers when he declared:
I expect Canadians to hold us accountable for delivering these commitments, and I expect all ministers to do their part – individually and collectively – to improve economic opportunity and security for Canadians.
We have committed to an open, honest government that is accountable to Canadians, lives up to the highest ethical standards, and applies the utmost care and prudence in the handling of public funds. I expect you to embody these values in your work and observe the highest ethical standards in everything you do. When dealing with our Cabinet colleagues, Parliament, stakeholders, or the public, it is important that your behaviour and decisions meet Canadians’ well-founded expectations of our government. I want Canadians to look on their own government with pride and trust.
As Minister, you must ensure that you are aware of and fully compliant with the Conflict of Interest Act and Treasury Board policies and guidelines.  You will be provided with a copy of Open and Accountable Government to assist you as you undertake your responsibilities.  I ask that you carefully read it and ensure that your staff does so as well. I draw your attention in particular to the Ethical Guidelines set out in Annex A of that document, which apply to you and your staff. As noted in the Guidelines, you must uphold the highest standards of honesty and impartiality, and both the performance of your official duties and the arrangement of your private affairs should bear the closest public scrutiny. This is an obligation that is not fully discharged by simply acting within the law.  Please also review the areas of Open and Accountable Government that we have expanded or strengthened, including the guidance on non-partisan use of departmental communications resources and the new code of conduct for exempt staff. – Excerpt from Trudeau Government Mandate
Principles
• Ministers and Parliamentary Secretaries must ensure that political fundraising activities or considerations do not affect, or appear to affect, the exercise of their official duties or the access of individuals or organizations to government.
• There should be no preferential access to government, or appearance of preferential access, accorded to individuals or organizations because they have made financial contributions to politicians and political parties.
• There should be no singling out, or appearance of singling out, of individuals or organizations as targets of political fundraising because they have official dealings with Ministers and Parliamentary Secretaries, or their staff or departments. – Excerpt from Trudeau Open and Accountable Government GuidelinesHigh-minded words rendered meaningless in light of the behaviour of Trudeau and a few of his ministers.
HE DID SO PROMISE A ROSE GARDEN
So why was Justin Trudeau, who has and continues to fail and disappoint at almost every level, elected in the first place? Surely it had to be for reasons more substantial than his good looks, his charm, his beautiful wife and children and the legacy of his father as an intellectual progressive that gave us our first taste of Trudeaumania that quickly waned with marriage and the stark reality of the October Crisis and imposition of the War Measures Act. It was not just the young who voted for the son enraptured by his youth and oozing, simply oozing sincerity, but also those old timers who where there when Trudeau père shone as his son now does, their memories, perhaps aided by the passage of time, offering a picture slightly burnished where Pierre’s popularity slipped from soaring adulation to bitter denunciation only to return a few years later to one of resigned acceptance: he was a familiar face that wasn’t the worst that was on offer at the time. Hardly a sufficient enough reason to pick one for the role of Prime Minister yet a far better justification than on display years later by the artful performance of the son when apparently good looks, lots of hair and too many feel-good grand promises, too grand to be convincing let alone believed, were, it seems, more than sufficient to elect a man who has proven himself a crafty phony time-and-again.
It is not only that he has turned, happily turned, his back on electoral reform and Human rights, though they play huge roles in my feelings towards him, it is that he won his victory through guile which, of course, one expects of politicians, passing himself not just as an anti-Harper personae but also as a progressive and someone who was truly different and for the better. He is none of these. Rather, Trudeau is a shell of light pleasantries and soothing blandishments, a husk of cloying sincerity that appears overdone, false, and, at times, of extreme bad taste. Symbolic gestures and hollow, high-minded words are emblematic of his character and his governance. That is the Trudeau the world sees. But under that benign smile and sickening sincerity is a cold, calculating, pragmatic, dishonest, manipulative, scheming, ruthless and opportunistic being who rivals anyone in the world of politics at its worst. The surface may be appealing, but it’s the content of the package that should really concern us. This is a man who finds little difficulty in shaking hands and doing trade deals with thugs and murderers; like Harper and the Harper gang, it is all about the wealth and health of Business and a few tokens to appease those to whom he devotes so, so many words: the First Nations peoples and the “middle class”.
AND DELIVERED A PILE OF…
In 2014, Trudeau suspended two Liberal MPs after allegations of sexual harassment in separate incidences were levelled against them. No charges were brought against the two who denied the allegations. Their careers in ruins, the two left the party in the expectation they would be permanently expelled. Compare that to Trudeau’s treatment of Calgary Liberal MP Darshan Kang recently faced with allegations of sexual misconduct which he has denied. Opposition members called on Trudeau to demand Kang’s resignation or to expel him from caucus until there was a complete investigation. Trudeau did neither and, when Kang finally did resign from caucus, Trudeau refused to say if he had pushed the MP to do so. Why was Trudeau’s behaviour so decisive in the first instance and less apparent in this? Alberta has elected only four Liberal MPs. Could the loss of one member explain Trudeau’s peculiar foot dragging?
Trudeau has made much of his “feminism” pointing to his cabinet. I question it. When given an opportunity (at least twice) to condemn the recorded misogynistic mouthings of Trump that came to light during the American campaign, Trudeau refused to do so.
Trudeau’s failure in Human Rights, which he claimed a priority during his campaign, is even more egregious, not only because of his signing off on the Light-Armoured trade deal with Human Rights abuser Saudi Arabia but also because of his eager, whole-hearted commitment to expand trade with China. No doubt the friendships he developed with many Chinese millionaire/billionaires during his many secret fundraising endeavours has gone a long way to smoothing the path of his courtship of China. As with Stephen Harper, all other considerations take a back seat when trade and Big Business are involved.
Human Rights? Why is Trudeau’s response close to mute on the crisis taking place in Myanmar? Why is he refusing to call out Aung San Suu Kyi, State Counsellor (similar to role of Prime Minister), Nobel Peace Prize winner and honorary Canadian citizen for her silence on what Chrystia Freeland, international trade minister, echoing the UN, has called “ethnic cleansing” of Rohingya Muslims in Burma? In September 21, while addressing the UN, he spoke only of domestic matters, condemning Canada’s role in the treatment of First Nations peoples and even, ridiculously, referring to his plans at tax reform. Again, offered the opportunity to condemn what was happening outside of Canada, the matter of the persecuted Rohingya, the war of words between Trump and North Korea’s Kim Jung-un, he kept mum. It was a peculiar performance unbefitting a world leader. While his comments on indigenous matters was accurate and blunt, that was solely for public consumption at home; why use that opportunity to speak on domestic affairs to which the UN plays no role? Besides, while big on talk, what has Trudeau’s Liberals accomplished these past two years regarding the indigenous community regarding housing, teen suicide, jobs, and infrastructure? Why are close to 200 First Nations communities without clean, let alone safe, drinking water? His appearance at the UN was about self-aggrandizement and symbolic platitudes and sound bites. Human Rights? While he offers a shameless display of babbittry for the folks at home, he reveals his concerns have everything to do with promoting and protecting trade, business interests and the Liberal brand. Immediately following his UN speech, he took time to respond to questions from the media. He was asked to comment on Trump’s threat in response to North Korea’s militaristic actions. “It is not my job to opine on the policies of the United States”! That was essentially the same answer he gave regarding the release of Trump’s vile utterances regarding the groping of women. This is not a leader speaking. That is man concerned with the preservation of his image and not making waves lest he disturbs and raises the ire of the red-haired loony south of us who might, just might, retaliate economically.
Feminism? Human Rights? Recently, Ralph Goodale, public safety minister, speaking for the government has outlined revamped rules regarding information obtained through torture. Canada will now embrace information gathered through torture while disavowing complicity to the torture by foreign, presumably allied, states if there is reason to believe Canada is a risk. Pretty broad guidelines with no clear terms of reference. “We were guided by the government’s commitment to keep Canadians safe and uphold Canada’s commitments to human rights and the rule of law,” he said (Kathleen Harris, CBC News, September 25, 2017). Typically, the Trudeau mob wants it both ways, keeping their hands clean while others do the dirty work. Not complicit? I don’t know. Seems to me a pretty clear sign of commitment if one remains silent regarding a criminal act and knowingly takes advantage to gain by it.
Different? Better? Open? Transparent? Well, that was the promise.
It is unfortunate that style over substance is the name of today’s game. During the last election, the NDP was clearly seen as a real contender. They could have, they should have, they didn’t. The Liberals and NDP pulled a switcheroo, the Liberals stealing from the left and the left surrendering as it raced to the centre. That worked well, didn’t it. Today, as the NDP is about to pick its new leader, it seems prepared to take a page from Trudeau, opting for charisma and vague utterances over substance. Jagmeet Singh looks good, speaks well and certainly presents himself as a contender as during his last appearance with his rivals before the leadership vote. He made his appearance running out from the wings and bouncing on stage waving his hands in the air as he jogged in place, a huge contingent of supporters behind him. My God, this was the great NDP hope. But what is his platform? For what does he stand? It is all vague,Trudeau light and I have had enough of Trudeau.
Politics has been reduced to a garish show of eye-candy and little more. Where are the big ideas and the big, fulfilled, promises? If the NDP picks Singh, the message is clear: the old guard, the stalwarts of the party are no longer needed or wanted. It is all about winning and if betrayal is part of the package, so be it. All those youthful and hopeful folks who voted for Trudeau were betrayed by an image and a promise never meant to be true or honoured. Will the NDP take that route? Looks like it.
There is no honour. There is no belief. There is no hope. There are only winners and losers and we, who put them in office, are just ancillary adjuncts wooed and stroked only to be ignored when the race is over until needed next election.
Trudeau and all the gang on all sides may be hypocrites but what does that say about the rest of us?
NOTE: I wish to thank all my readers and those who wrote me, in particular Pamela MacNeil, whose words, wisdom and support encouraged me to continue writing probably for much longer than I should have. I would have liked to have heard from more of you. I may return, likely will, but, for now, for a few months at least, I will take my leave. I have nothing new to say or to add and I haven’t, I believe, for some time. Thank you.

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But such is the irresistible nature of truth, that all it asks and all it wants, is the liberty of appearing. – Thomas Paine.

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They that can give up essential liberties to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety. — Benjamin Franklin

TRUMP, MISOGYNY & RACISM: TRUDEAU’S PECULIAR SILENCE

In Rhodesia a white truck driver passed a group of idle natives and muttered, “They’re lazy brutes.” A few hours later he saw natives heaving two-hundred pound sacks of grain onto a truck, singing in rhythm to their work. “Savages!” he grumbled. “What do you expect?” – Gordon W. Allport

If we believe absurdities we shall commit atrocities. – Voltaire

Frank Pelaschuk

 

It may be a truism that has become reductive: Every tragedy offers opportunity to showcase the best and the worst of us.

We have recently been witness to a lot of both. We have seen the faces and heard the voices of hope and reason standing up to the ugly proponents of intolerance, unreason, and violence. Heather Heyer and scores of others, as part of the first group in Charlottesville, Virginia, became victims of the second group. Heyer paid with her life only to have her and the others targeted again by Donald Trump when he attempted to offer a moral equivalency to their behaviour as opponents of racism to that of the white-supremacist neo-Nazis who feed on fear, ignorance, hatred, and victimhood. Heyer, as Trump would have it, was as responsible for her death and the others as responsible for their injuries as the white supremacist supporter who aimed his vehicle at them. His comments, vile and shocking as they were, surely could not have surprised; it was only a question of how low Trump would sink. Well, it appears, there is no sewer that does not appeal to him. A few days later, Barcelona ­­– 14 innocents murdered, terrorists hunted, captured and killed. In both instances, immediately following the tragic and murderous insanity, in Charlottesville and Barcelona and around the world, ordinary citizens, opponents of white supremacist neo-Nazis and terrorism rallied on the side of the angels in massive displays of defiance and grief: the haters and butchers would not intimidate them.

THUGS

Unfortunately, for those opponents of fascism and white supremacists, there were a few, as there invariably is at such gatherings, set on undermining the hopes of forceful, effective and peaceful support for the victims of Charlottesville and Barcelona. In Quebec City a far-right anti-Islam anti-immigration group, La Meute, had been granted a permit to march August 20th before Quebec’s National Assembly. Gathered at a nearby parking lot, La Meute marchers found themselves outnumbered and confined to the parking lot by anti-fascist protestors. The march did not take place. Even so, La Meute and its supporters were handed a get out of jail card claiming victory in the name of free speech while their anti-fascist opponents, sporting a black eye, reeled, wondering what had happened. Among those opponents of fascism and racists, there mingled a familiar and particularly nasty group of masked, black-clad thugs shouting anti-fascist slogans; but these were not men and women seeking to aid the cause of forceful, effective and peaceful opposition nor were they interested in constructive dialogue. They, apparently all men, were there as thugs, disruptors, more interested in the display of force than in suasion roaming among the peaceful anti-fascist ranks in groups seeking to do damage beating a man for carrying a Patriotes and Quebec flag, throwing plastic chairs at helmeted police, setting a dumpster afire, and targeting members of the media snatching and smashing cameras. These hooligans were hardly on the side of the angels their behaviour more that of agents provocateurs working on behalf of the far right or, as in those good old days of the sixties and seventies, for the police, in hopes of discrediting so-called leftists, i.e., opponents of fascism, though it is doubtful that those brutish elements who show up at every political rally believe in anything but violence and thuggery. If they differ from the imbecilic and ignorant white supremacist racists who must scapegoat, blaming everyone but themselves for their failures, it is difficult to determine. By day’s end, the far-right group and supporters emerged from the parking lot knowing they had carried the day and been granted an opportunity to look good, if such an outcome can be possible of bigots. Even so, the victory was not absolute; one member who had come in support of La Meute appeared on the late news saying something like this: “We’re not racists, we just hate Islam.” Go figure.

There is, nevertheless, almost reason for hope. Those really on the side of the angels appear, for now, to far outnumber the vile, hateful, violence-prone racists and murderers seeking to spread their nihilistic messages. Almost reason for hope. It is not enough to declare oneself as anti-fascist and then act like the thugs you claim to detest; what pride must one possess in deeds that he must mask himself from the public eye?

THE MISSING

Almost reason for hope. But something is missing. Oh, yes, the great and small and good are out there, arms linked in sorrow and defiance not only to the mad acts but also the mad ravings of someone who heads one of the great democracies in the world. But where are the world leaders when needed most? True, they condemn the mad acts; that is easy enough to do. But what have they to offer regarding the lunatic musings of Trump besides the muted generalized and inoffensive pap of which we hear too much? Where is the loud, loud, loud united condemnation from our world leaders? Oh, there have been a few raised angry voices, predictably from enemies of the US. But what of American allies? Where are the voices of outrage, of resounding condemnation, the pointed fingers and loud, unequivocal denunciations of that most unpresidential of lunatics who, the day after Charlottesville, sought to blame both sides for what happened, then reversed himself and then doubled down only to reverse himself once again? Which Trump can we believe? Unquestionably, the real Trump is the monstrous Trump that refused to condemn those white supremacists that first day and who, while campaigning urged his supporters to punch out those who disrupted his rallies.

Amy B. Wang, of the Washington Post, Aug. 16, provides a few offerings from some of the leaders. The first is by British PM Elizabeth May. “I see no equivalence between those who propound fascist views and those who oppose them. I think it is important for all those in positions of responsibility to condemn far right views wherever we hear them.” May, you will note, does not name Trump. And there is this by the European Commission, again without mention of Trump or Charlottesville, “We reject and condemn all forms and manifestations of racism and xenophobia. They are incompatible with the values and principles upon which the E.U. is founded.” German Justice Minister Heiko Maas was more direct: “It is unbearable how Trump is now glossing over the violence of the right-wing hordes from Charlottesville. No one should trivialize anti-Semitism and racism by neo-Nazis.” Martin Shulz, leader of the Social Democratic Party of Germany, had this to say: “Nazis must be confronted decisively. What Trump is doing is highly incendiary. Those who downplay violence and hate betray the values of the West!”

Shouldn’t there be more? Should not our own Canadian political leaders take a more forceful, more direct stand regarding Trump’s vile moral equivalency?

HYPOCRITES

Well, yes. But they have failed miserably. Of the three major Canadian leaders, only the NDP’s Thomas Mulcair from the get go has stood out in absolute opposition to Trump calling him a “fascist”. For some, that language was extreme. But was it?

In the wake of Charlottesville, Andrew Scheer, newly elected leader of the Conservatives, Jason Kenney, ex-MP, and Brian Jean, former member of the Wildrose Party who, with Kenney, was a guiding force behind the Unite the Right movement in Alberta, suddenly seemed to have discovered that granting interviews to Ezra Levant’s The Rebel, may not be such a good idea after all. The Rebel, a media platform for the far-right anti-Islamic white supremacist media group and the purveyor of “real” fake news since 2015 with the death of Sun News Network, appears to be Canada’s answer to Breitbart and it has been so from day one. One of its stalwarts, Faith Goldy, providing live coverage in Charlottesville when the events leading to Heyer’s death unfolded, seemed in her element offering favourable “reportage” of the neo-Nazi rally and gleefully condemning the left as “intolerant” even as the car drove into the crowd killing Heyer and injuring scores. This was just one of several events that was to offer The Rebel one of its worst weeks with members leaving and/or fired, contributors fleeing and questions regarding financial mismanagement, accusations of dishonestly solicited donations, misuse of viewer and supporter email addresses, charges of blackmail, hush money, and the man himself, Levant offering a pitiably inadequate mea culpa in an attempt to distance himself from the Alt-Right and Faith Goldy, since fired, evidently having gone too far in Charlottesville and for appearing on a podcast by the Daily Stormer, a neo-Nazi pro-genocide outlet and purveyor of extremist white supremacy and anti-Muslim hate-mongering views while whining about white victimhood. Evidently her sympathetic support of white supremacists raising the issue of “white racial consciousness”, her take on “white genocide” by Muslims, and her concerns regarding the “JQ” or Jewish question were not offensive enough. These are folks with a nasty mindset long known for extremist views warning Canadians of the Great Muslim Takeover Of The World, a conspiracy theory otherwise known as Counter-Jihad. So when Scheer, Jason and Jean seek to distance themselves from The Rebel with claims of being surprised and unhappy with the direction it has taken, serious doubts occur; can they be believed or trusted? Hardly. From the start, The Rebel has been espousing the same filthy bilge. When it suited his needs, as during his Conservative leadership bid, Scheer and other Conservatives, have had no difficulty citing The Rebel as a source and in granting interviews clearly untroubled then by The Rebel’s vicious anti-Muslim stance and its assertions of “white genocide”. Can anyone in the Conservative camp claim to be surprised and be honest about the direction of The Rebel, which has never sugar-coated their vile, extreme views especially when at least one campaign manager for Scheer during his leadership bid was on the editorial board of The Rebel? These are rats abandoning a stinking, sinking ship. It is not the loathsome opinions that disturb Scheer, Kenney or Jean but the sudden unwanted harsh glare of bad press threatening The Rebel and themselves by extension. Surprised? Levant has been peddling his hateful drivel for years and yet, remarkably, very few, if any, voices from the Conservative party have ever confronted his vile grab bag of cant. For those interested, I highly recommend Inside Rebel Media by Richard Warnica in the National (http://nationalpost.com/features/inside-ezra-levants-rebel-media).

THE PHONY PM

But where, oh where, is Justin Trudeau in all this? Well, not surprisingly, the big talking phony is mute. Hardly a peep. Oh, yes, he’s loud on the big and symbolic as last weekend marching happily in the Gay Pride parade; that’s how he got elected. I’ll make Human Rights a priority. I’m a feminist. 2015 was the last ever first-past-the-post election. Loud, smug, self-reverential, self-serving blarney. However, when it comes to proving himself, to standing up and being counted, really counted, on the big issues, Trudeau has shown himself a man particularly nimble at escaping the close scrutiny and utter contempt of the public simply by remaining silent. He reminds me of a line: Everybody should believe in something; I believe I’ll have another drink. That about sums up Trudeau, a man who knows his priorities and that’s looking after number one.

My view of him is not a result of disgruntlement born of bitter disappointment, a Trudeau fan lashing out at him for failing to honour so many of his grand promises. I never believed in the Trudeau or his promise in the first place but I was willing to wait and see. It didn’t take long to determine what manner of man he is: he is just a prettier and softer version of Harper but unlike Harper, less honest about who and what he is. Yes, the world loves him. That sunny, sunny smile to go with his sunny, sunny ways. And when it comes to sympathy, no one, absolutely no one oozes it quite like our boy, brows furrowed, eyelids working, lips slightly pulled down and, lest we don’t quite get it, right hand over left breast, fingers tapping, tapping, signalling that it is all there, in his heart, that he oozes, just oozes, sincerity and comprehension of one’s pain. And, if that’s not enough, just wait, he’ll pull out a handkerchief and dab at the corner of his eye. You won’t miss it. The camera will find it, that single tear as Trudeau delicately dabs it away. The world may be moved by such a heartfelt display but I’m not buying it. It’s an act, it’s as real as Trudeau’s feminism.

But the signs of what he is were there very early into his term and I have written of them many times. There were, of course, the many worrisome fundraisers attended by Trudeau and his ministers raising the spectre of conflict of interests; he lied and then did a turnabout when he claimed no one sought to do business with him at these affairs. While campaigning he had made Human Rights a priority but almost immediately turned his back on that by signing off on the $15 billion trade deal with Human Rights abuser Saudi Arabia ignoring warnings that the Canadian made light-armoured vehicles could be retrofitted with weapons and used against Saudi citizens. Recently, some videos came to light purportedly showing exactly that. Chrystia Freeland, international trade minister, found that very troubling if true. Not a peep from Trudeau. And, of course, we can all recall his craven undermining of the electoral reform committee when, shortly at its formation, he grumbled that Canadians no longer considered it a priority. But this was after he sought to stack the committee to get the outcome he desired: a ranked ballot system. When that didn’t work out he had his minster, too cowardly to do it himself, kill reform offering a miserable, absolutely false lie as justification for doing so (it could lead to extremists taking control of government) when most Western democracies enjoy a robust and healthy form of Proportional Representation. He is not only a liar he is a revisionist sneak. He is certainly not a man to be trusted.

As he proved when he refused to support his many declarations of himself a feminist while pointing to the makeup of his cabinet as proof. It’s no such thing. When offered the opportunity (twice at least) to condemn Trump’s misogynistic statements which came to light during Trump’s campaign, Trudeau stated that everyone knew he was a “feminist” and that it wasn’t Canada’s business to comment on the internal affairs of another country. He said that twice. Which makes him a coward twice, at least. His supporters claimed he was practicing diplomacy and they applauded his tact and prudence. You don’t want to rile Donald Trump especially with NAFTA negotiations hovering in the background. Remember, Trudeau boasted about his feminism and campaigned, in part, on Human Rights. He failed the test on both counts but not for the last time. For Trudeau, as for Harper, the health and well being of BIG BUSINESS is paramount. Human Rights and feminism, well, when push comes to shove they’ll take second place. As apparently does his promise to be different and better. Not only did Trudeau accept a free helicopter ride from the Aga Khan during Christmas holidays, a family friend whose foundation has received over $310 million from Canadians, he took along friends with him. One of his closest advisors, Gerald Butts, is also a life-long friend of Trudeau. It is said he is also a personal friend of Trump’s. Now that’s okay but should he be advising Trudeau on anything regarding Trump? As well, another friend of Butts, Rana Sarkar, has been appointed as consul general in San Francisco at almost double the usual salary. Several concerns arise from this. Why such a high salary? Butts tweeted that it was for the sacrifice Sarkar has made by leaving the private sector! Hey, what? If Sarkar finds it a sacrifice he should consider returning to the private sector rather than suffering on the public dime. Too, I’d be curious to know the role Butts and/or Trudeau played in the hiring and in determining Sarkar’s pay package. As well, why did Butts fail to remind Canadians that Sarkar had lost a bid for a Liberal seat in 2011 and that he had lost a nomination battle in 2015? Sounds like a loser rather than a winner getting rewarded, doesn’t it? But the Liberals have a long history of rewarding their friends, haven’t they?

To me, Trudeau’s biggest failing is that of a man of principle. When it comes to talk, his backbone is in his mouth. As with feminism, when offered an opportunity to respond to Trump’s outrageous comments following the Charlottesville tragedy, he failed to deliver. Instead, he offered this pitiably inadequate tweet: “We condemn it (racists violence and hate) in all its forms & send support to the victims in Charlottesville.” That is it. This is a world leader who spouts all the nice words but when it comes to actually, to actually backing them up, falls far too short. That is the weak-kneed response of a man unwilling or unable to take a principled stand. Or maybe he just doesn’t believe in anything but what’s in it for him.

I expect better of our prime minister. Trudeau is not it. He has proven himself to possess fluid ethics. He is dishonest, as when he lied regarding the Saudi trade deal saying his hands were tied and when he disregards his own mandate regarding conflict of interest. He has broken many, far too many promises with the flimsiest of pretexts and often with outright lies, most notably when walking away from electoral reform. He says he is a feminist. Saying so doesn’t make it so. He is deceitful, smug, and self-aggrandizing. He is an opportunist, who is more interested in the health and welfare of BIG BUSINESS than in the Human Rights he made claim to as a priority. He is all about the symbolic and grand gestures, a showman who will only do the safe leaving risks to his ministers and others. He is a contemptible showboat who appears at all the grand and mostly safe events that have wide appeal but when it comes to really standing up at times that matter, he has proven himself too small, too shallow, and too venal to earn respect least of all mine.

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But such is the irresistible nature of truth, that all it asks and all it wants, is the liberty of appearing. – Thomas Paine.

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They that can give up essential liberties to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety. Benjamin Franklin

 

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